August 27, 2014  

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Gulf Coast Students Selected for Eagle Scholars Program for Undergraduate Research

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After applying to the Eagle Scholars Program for Undergraduate Research (Eagle SPUR), four University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast students were selected for the program. These students, in collaboration with their faculty sponsors, will receive funding support for independent research, as well as scholarly and creative activity.

The four students selected from Southern Miss Gulf Coast are Hannah Bahe of Waveland, Lyndsay Carrigee of Kiln, Anna Roller of Bay St. Louis, and Ian Taylor of Gulfport. Having proposed their research topics in their application to the program, students are expected to devote at least 150 hours of work to their projects.

Bahe and Roller are both under the advisement of Dr. Heidi Lyn, assistant professor of psychology. Bahe’s project, titled “Choice and Control of Enrichment for Captive Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins,” will explore the effect of choice on the effectiveness of enrichment for dolphins in human care. Roller’s project, “Corpus Callosum Volume of Vervet Monkeys in Relation to Autism Spectrum Disorder,” will compare brain structures in vervet monkeys and children with autism.

Under the advisement of Dr. Joe Griffitt, assistant professor in the Department of Coastal Sciences, Carrigee is working on the project, “Effects of Metal Nanoparticulates on the Micrbiome of Zebrafish.” Her research will focus on the microflora in the gut of zebrafish and the direct effects that nanometals have on the delicate balance of the environment.

Carrigee adds, “Hopefully this preliminary research will prompt further investigation into the usage and effects of nanometals in our environment.”

Taylor, under the advisement of biological sciences instructor Jill Anderson, is working on his research project, “Impact of Wastewater Treatment on Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria in the Environment.”

“My focus will be on a local wastewater treatment facility that empties into the inter-coastal waterway here on the coast,” said Taylor. “The goal is to determine if, in fact, the bacteria released in the effluent of the wastewater treatment plant possess a greater resistance to certain antibiotic than their counterparts in the environment.”

Eagle SPUR, offered by the university’s Center for Undergraduate Research, is open to all full-time undergraduate students currently enrolled at Southern Miss. Students, who must be in good academic standing, are allowed to submit only one proposal. These proposals, accepted for both fall and spring semester grant recipients, are reviewed by a panel of three faculty members.

“It's pretty unreal being selected as a recipient of the grant,” said Bahe. “I've gotten much more out of my time at USM than I ever anticipated and I feel like this is a great start to a career in marine mammal research. I will be using the funds to travel to present my research at a comparative cognition conference in March, an experience I never even imagined to achieve as an undergraduate.”

For more information about the Eagle Scholars Program for Undergraduate Research at Southern Miss, visit www.usm.edu/research/center-undergraduate-research.